I don't know about you but I found the Christmas and New Year period tremendously refreshing. So far, all my resolutions are on track (I like to have more than one in case some of my January good intentions go belly up), and I am really excited about the year ahead at the League. I'm excited because of the both the plans that I have seen for the year ahead and the body of good work that we accomplished last year.
I'm sure you'll agree 2011 was a landmark year for the League. We secured the conviction of two members of the Fernie Hunt (twice) and in a comprehensive appeal court ruling the judge described their defence as a 'cynical subterfuge'.
Northern Ireland banned hare coursing, Catalonia and Ecuador banned bullfighting and the Guinness Book of World Records banned cruel sports from their pages.
We've received tremendous support from people in the public eye. Actor, Tom Conti joined our campaign to end snaring. Ricky Gervais spoke out about bullfighting and several celebrities spoke out ahead of the Grand National that claimed the lives of two horses.
We led the fight against badger culls in both England and Wales.
Cruel criminals increasingly found themselves in the criminal justice system and we've seen hare coursers banned from driving; gamekeepers who illegally trap birds of prey doing hundreds of hours community service; and dog fighters jailed
Polls have shown that public support for shooting is dwindling and that voting to repeal the Hunting Act is the least popular coalition government pledge on animal welfare. However, not everything about 2011 was positive.
There are still too many cases of hunt havoc, two hunt staff (Wales and Somerset) were convicted of assaulting law abiding monitors and poachers cruelly killed the Goodleigh Giant.
In October, we exposed a series of artificial earths still being used in hunting country and launched our £1million enforcement campaign to tackle hunt crime, which will be a large focus of our work in 2012.
Joe is right when he says "Hunts cause all manner of anti-social behaviour, from blocking roads,
running hounds down railway tracks, and savaging pets in people's
gardens. This pernicious side of hunting is often unseen but it has the
biggest effect of people in rural communities."
We've already seen great support from rural communities - in terms of intelligence, donations and support this and the consistent poll numbers that show rural areas are also against repealing the Hunting Act are a puncture in the lazy arguments about town versus country - if anything it's cruel versus kind.
I know with your help we'll go on to achieve more in 2012.